Category Archives: Holidays

The History of Mother’s Day: A Day For Sentiment…And Smiles

As happens every year, April showers have made way for May flowers…or at least that is what I experienced this past weekend while in New York City where tulips, daffodils, lilacs and irises were everywhere.

Springtime in NYC

Signs of spring in NYC with tulips lining Park Avenue (left) and daffodils making their appearance at the Saturday Union Square Farmer’s Market (right)

 

And the trees…OMG…blooming in all their glory!

In front of The Plaza Hotel across from Central Park at 59th Street (left) and outside the brand new Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District

In front of The Plaza Hotel across from Central Park at 59th Street (left) and outside the brand new Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District

In Florida, however, not so many signs of spring.

So call me crazy but…I always assumed that the proliferation of flowers elsewhere may, in fact, have been the reason why America’s version of Mother’s Day was chosen for this particular month.  With the day we honor all maternal figures rapidly approaching this Sunday, I took it upon myself to check the origins via my good friend Google and suddenly found myself reading a very different history than I had imagined.

It appears our modern day version started as a result of Ann Reeves Jarvis. A social activist from a young age, she was the founder of the Mothers Day Work Clubs around the time of the Civil War. The goal of these local clubs was to help promote better health and sanitation, but also to demonstrate the value of mothers to our society beyond the traditional domestic stereotypes. Eventually, Ann began to dream of a way for our country to better honor all mothers as their role was rapidly changing.

Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis (1832-1905)

Ann passed away in 1905 and her daughter, Anna Jarvis, an extremely community driven woman in her own right, decided to fulfill her mother’s dream. With the help of many friends and activists she started a letter writing campaign  to establish a holiday to recognize the importance of motherhood. The first official Mothers’ Day ceremony took place in her hometown of Grafton, West Virginia on May 9, 1908, three years to the day after Ann’s death. At the service, Anna presented all of the mothers with a white carnation, her mother’s favorite flower, still to this day considered the symbolic flower of the holiday.

It took a few more years and a lot of letters until, one by one, every state began celebrating some form of a Mother’s Day. And on May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed Proclamation 1268, creating a national holiday on the second Sunday in May.

“The history of the day has its roots in honoring the broader networks, social ties, and political concerns of women. The day is about women’s commitment to the past, present, and future at both the personal and political levels. It honors women who have acted not only on behalf of their own children but also on behalf of an entire future generation.” (Source: Legacyproject.org)

By the 1920s, however, Anna had watched how commercialized it became and actually spent the rest of her life denouncing the holiday.

A Day Of Sentiment

Despite her profound disgust for what she started, she was labeled the Mother of Mother’s Day and until she died in 1948 her room at the nursing home where she lived was always filled on Mother’s Day with cards and flowers from around the country.

Anna Jarvis (Source: Wikipedia)

FYI…don’t ever underestimate the importance of punctuation. The original holiday was Mothers’ Day with the apostrophe being after the “s”. Why? So the emphasis would be on all women’s social and political activities.  Officials, of course, messed it up by changing the placement between the “r” and “s” and thereby forever making it a holiday about one’s own particular mother.

For me,  Mother’s Day has been rather bittersweet in recent years. Many of you know that my own mother passed away on May 10, 2005, two days after we attempted to celebrate the holiday in her hospital room in Little Rock where she had recently received her second stem cell transplant to help curb her incurable Multiple Myeloma. She actually had been cleared to go home the week before but took an unexpected turn for the worse.

Sadly, Mother’s Day began to leave me with a very heavy heart. I don’t know if I would feel the same way had she died at any other time of the year, but like Anna Jarvis 100+ years ago, I needed to do something to make sure my mother would always be remembered.

A simple email (my version, I suppose, of a letter writing campaign) on May 10, 2006 to family and friends asking them to take a moment during the day to have a cookie and smile (she was an incredible baker and made amazing chocolate chip cookies) led to an annual “event” of sorts selling her cookies to raise money for various cancer charities. If you don’t know the story, feel free to read a blog I wrote three years ago, in her memory as well as in honor of my first Mother’s Day after starting my baked goods company, tcP! Sweets.

While I no longer have that business, I still have daily reminders of my mother and the incredible role model she was for me beyond the four walls of our home growing up and through my adult years before her death.  After all, she came from incredible stock…my grandmother and great-grandmother were also very strong and fiercely independent women.

My mother (center) at her Sweet Sixteen with my grandmother (left) and great-grandmother (right). I may be a little biased but she was so beautiful.

My great-grandmother, Helen, actually ran away from her home in Czechoslovakia when she was 12 and took a ship to the U.S. by herself. Her family managed to get her back to their village until she was 14, only for her to run away again.

Did I mention she was fierce??  

It seems her parents figured out she was determined and decided to let her settle in Detroit where she ultimately met my great-grandfather and the rest, as they say, is history. Clearly, had she never left Eastern Europe, the chances of her surviving the Holocaust years later would have been slim…talk about rewriting history, right?

I wish I could rewrite what happened to my mother. Instead, I will continue to keep her memory alive the best way I know how especially by having a cookie on Mother’s Day, possibly for breakfast, since that’s what happened last year when my son and I went to visit my daughter at college and neither one of them, of course, made it out of bed before noon.

Photo

Mother’s Day morning 2014…Yep, that would be my son sleeping in the background.

This year, I’ll be in Tampa. No idea what the plan is yet (giant hint there for my husband and son to figure something out), but regardless of whether I have the cookie for breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime in between, I guarantee it will be with a big smile on my face.

You know what else would bring a smile to my face? If you would consider voting for my dog, Gavin. He (whether he realizes it or not) is competing for the Dogs With Purpose Calendar Contest.  Since I am not doing any baking this year to raise money for any cancer charities that I’ve helped in the past, I figured I would put Gavin’s sweet face to work for me…1507781_10152567157693226_3598771262779493801_n

Come on, a vote is only a buck…cheaper than a cookie or cup of coffee!!!! And you will be helping Women With Purpose, an amazing non-profit helping cancer patients with their non-medical financial needs.

That’s it for now…wishing all the moms out there a wonderful day filled with love and life on Sunday…#BlackerOut !

 

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Holidays, Motherhood

Happy 420

Unless you were hiding under a rock through your teen years, you kind of know what today is right?

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Yeah, it’s the day when stoners unite.

Wait, what? They only do that one day a year?

Well, that’s not true but April 20th does have significance to those that do partake.

You don’t know the history? Well, the true “birth” of 420 (as in four-twenty, not four hundred and twenty) apparently dates back to the early 1970s when a group of high school students in San Rafael, CA headed to a certain spot on their campus to indulge in a little “afterschool activity” at, you guessed it, 4:20 pm.

It soon became the code for getting high, quickly spreading around the country in the form of hemp fest celebrations on the corresponding calendar date, 4-20, creating giant cannabis clouds of smoke throughout the land…

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And now you know…you’re welcome?????

So I’m guessing this will be a relatively popular choice of ice cream today.Half Baked

My local grocery store thinks the FroYo version (on the left) is the “better choice”. I guess they are concerned about calorie and fat counts, but I’m not sure anyone celebrating today is worried about their diet whether half or fully baked.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut!

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Holidays, Random Stuff

Happy Valentine’s Day Blacker Style

I’ll keep this very short…and, of course, sweet being that today is somewhat about chocolate.

In our house we believe every day should be Valentine’s Day. I know, very sappy, but true. So we forego the flowers and chocolates as well as the overpriced dinner out and stick with a tradition that goes back to when my husband and I were dating.

Beth Blacker Valentine Menagerie

Our Valentine’s Day menagerie … please disregard the pots and pans in the background

Every year we each go out in search of the perfect new addition to what we call our Valentine menagerie. Surprisingly, we’ve never bought the same one for each other. They all play a song, some more current than others and each one has a somewhat unique movement…a lion opening and closing a cloak to Kool and The Gang’s “Ladies Night” or a gorilla jiggling to Pitbull’s “I Know You Want Me”.

For 360 days out the year they all reside on the plant shelf above the guest room closet, no doubt collecting a ton of dust. But for the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, they make their home on our kitchen counter and whenever we walk by them we inevitably push at least one of the buttons and do a little dance ourselves. What can I say?…We are easily amused and, I suppose, a little crazy.

So without further adieu, please help me welcome the 2015 additions to our menagerie…

Three guesses what the fox sings and the first two don’t count 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day however you choose to celebrate, but hopefully with a little skip in your step and a song in your heart.

That’s it for now… #Blackerout

P.S. Feel free to leave a comment below and share any of your Valentine’s Day traditions or favorite, maybe even crazy, memories.

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Holidays